Accelerating Smart Labs in Universities and Laboratories: A View From the Field

Jofrey Quintanar, Argonne National Laboratory
Catherine Hurley, Argonne National Laboratories
Shannon Horn, University of Colorado Boulder
Genna Waldvogel, Los Alamos National Laboratory

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Laboratories typically consume three to 10 times more energy than similarly sized commercial buildings, and as much as 50 percent of that energy can be wasted by inefficient and poorly operating fume hoods and ventilation systems. When properly implemented, the Smart Labs approach enables facility stakeholders to plan and cost effectively achieve high performance laboratories that mitigate risk, operate dependably, provide greater flexibility and reduce energy costs by as much as 50 percent. A Smart Labs Program enables safe and efficient world-class science to occur in laboratories by: reducing ventilation to the lowest safe levels during occupied and unoccupied times, designing for high ventilation effectiveness, minimizing fan energy, and implementing smart building controls.

While incorporating Smart Labs strategies makes sense in principle, the reality is that implementing a SL program within the context of a large laboratory organization can be extremely challenging. The key is to being able to find a balance between incorporating Smart Labs strategies, advancing the innovative/mission driven research being perfomed at the institution, and maintaining occupant safety. The struggles of the sustainability teams currently implementing SL strategies throughout the industry are similar: large logistical challenges that require a multidisciplinary core teams; organization segmented in silos; safety concerns; lack of clear/consistent ventilation guidelines and regulations that lead to misconceptions; aging facilities with deferred maintenance; lack of sufficient resources that require carefully strategic planning to maximize impact; and lack of industry participation to drive down costs and bring Smart Labs to the mainstream The goal of this panel discussion is to gain different perspectives from industry professionals currently undergoing implementation of Smart Labs strategies in their places of work. This tacit knowledge can become a point of reference for the audience members as they embark in their own journey towards a more sustainable and safe work environment.

Learning Objectives

  • Discuss those aspects of the Smart Labs program (resources, stakeholder engagement, planning, testing, implementation, innovation, etc.) where the panelists are having successes and challenges. The panelists will have the opportunity to expand on best practices and lessons learned as they integrate the program into their design and operations;
  • Explore the value of 'peer-to-peer' knowledge sharing in order to accelerate the successful incorporation of Smart Labs strategies in laboratories;
  • Discuss ways in which private/public laboratories, universities, and other organizations could join the conversation to increase industry participation and incentivize innovation; and
  • Discuss different approaches in which the Smart Labs program could broaden within the industry and gain momentum. Brainstorm ways in which owners, service professionals and vendors could collaborate and integrate their approach in order to drive the market towards incorporating Smart Labs strategies in standard laboratory design and operations.


Jofrey Quintanar, AIA, LEED BD+C, CDT is a sustainability project manager at Argonne National Laboratory. His role is to manage the implementation of the SmartLabs program throughout the campus in order to increase energy efficiency in the facilities, improve operations, and reduce the use of natural resources. Jofrey is an Illinois licensed architect with a Masters Degree in Project Management from Northwestern University.

Catherine Hurley is Sustainability Program Manager for Argonne National Laboratory where she directs projects that increase efficiency of facilities and operations while reducing the use of natural resources. Catherine has a Bachelor's degree in civil engineering from the University of Dayton and is a Registered Professional Engineer, LEED Accredited Professional, ISSP Certified Sustainability Professional, and Certified Energy Manager.

Shannon Horn is a professional engineer and LEED AP®, with a Bachelor of Science degree from Colorado State University. Ms. Horn is the Principle campus mechanical engineer for CU Boulder, where she holds a diversity of responsibilities from commissioning agent, to AHJ to supporting energy conservation projects and initiatives campus-wide.

Genna Waldvogel is a civil engineer and has been at Los Alamos National Laboratory as the Ventilation Management Coordinator for two years. She assists researchers and designers with ways to improve laboratory ventilation for safety and energy savings. She has a BS in Environmental Science from the University of Vermont and a MS in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University.


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